Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cards You Have Been Dealt

Five years ago I thought my novelist days were over.
My two-book contract with Random House had not been renewed after I didn't earn out a mid-six-figure advance. I had no prospect of publishing with a new major publisher since leaving six-figures on the table was tantamount to career suicide. I could no longer afford my house, or my Jeep. My wife, who married me when things were going great in the literary life, no longer felt so eager to be married to a man who couldn't get his third book published, even after we'd just had a child together. In her defense, we were hitting financial rock bottom.

While her family was screaming at me (sometimes literally) to "get a job" and "write on the side," they had also begun to initiate the process over which my wife would eventually cave in. Her family made her a deal she couldn't refuse: leave the bum and we'll take care of you. Buy you a new house, pay for your living expenses, help you raise your daughter.

My wife was left with a difficult choice to make. Stick with her husband and soul mate, and work through this very hard period, or choose to side with her family. She chose the latter. In doing so she played her hand, cashed in her chips, and removed herself from the gaming table. But at least she became financially stable again and wasn't even required to get a job in order to maintain her bank account.

I too chose not to get a job, but to stay the course of the writer. However, the hand I'd been dealt didn't look too sweet. It consisted of a whole lot of low cards with a couple of jokers tossed in. But there was nothing left for me but to stay the course no matter how bleak the future. I'd lost my wife, my child, my house, my money, and possibly, my career. You'd think I'd lose my sanity at the same time? But writing was my sanity, and it was my solace and my art, and no amount of outside pressure was going to extinguish the fire that burned from within. Call it stubbornness in the face of absolute calamity. Call it stupidity. Call it what you will. But like the bulldog that gets its arm stuck in the trap, I'd rather chew it off then die on someone else's terms.

So what did I do?

I downsized. I rented a 900 sq.ft. apartment with my two sons, and decided to start all over again. In other words, I didn't fold my cards, but instead, decided to persist at the gaming table and play them no matter how much bluffing and game-facing it was going to take. Curiously, in the immediate wake of my marital demise, doors started opening for me. I went back to freelance journalism, and began to build up a cache of published articles, professional blogs, global assignments and a new reputation as a foreign correspondent and photo-journalist. Within a year of splitting with my wife, I found myself on assignment in Africa, Moscow, Italy, Spain and other exotic locals. I was living and working in places like Florence, Italy for up to a month at a time, and making money at it. I became happy, but I also became a bit perplexed. Why wasn't I able to take advantage of these working opportunities when I was married? What was it about the marriage that made it impossible for me to succeed? Were the two related, or was my new found success in the absence of marriage entirely a coincidence?

While my non-fictional life regained momentum, I also went back to serious fiction writing. I wrote MOONLIGHT FALLS, THE REMAINS, CONCRETE PEARL, and PATHOLOGICAL, all within a 36 month period. I found a new agent who loved my previously published work and the new work even more, and who committed herself to finding me a new home, even if that new home were a smaller press than I was used to. In terms of playing my hand, it wasn't a matter of walking away with the entire the pot at this point, it was a matter of getting back into the game and staying there, improving my hand the entire time with each and every ante.

Things happened. Good things.
I contracted with a small press for MOONLIGHT FALLS. Despite all expectations, and a new-found appreciation for social media marketing and virtual tours, it hit the hard-boiled bestseller list on Amazon and stayed there. It was my first experience ever being a bestseller of any kind. That one experience led to a new contract for THE REMAINS. One which caught me off guard. Up until a few years ago, I really had no idea what an E-Book was. But my agent was so excited about the new opportunities in this medium that she could hardly express herself without hyperventilating. She informed me that she was about to strike up a new deal with a new publisher out of Boise of all places. A new young, maverick publisher who was making waves in the industry by publishing mid and back-listers like me, who although previously published by major houses, had found themselves treading water in a purgatorial sea of uncertainty, disbelief and utter terror at what the future might hold.

The publisher, StoneHouse Ink, would publish THE REMAINS in E-Book first and then paper. Which at the time, I thought was bass-ackwards. Paper always comes out first, followed by the e-book and audio. My agent persevered and asked me to give it a try. There'd be no advance, but I would be offered instead a 50% royalty rate on all E-Books sold. What's more, the book would be released within two months from contract execution. Something unheard of in traditional legacy publishing realms. Believing the whole endeavor would crash and burn, I nonetheless trusted my agent, and said to myself, "What the hell!" I anted up, and stayed in the game deciding to keep on playing the new cards I'd been dealt.

Then something wonderful happened.
I not only hit the bestseller list in Hard-Boiled Mystery. But I hit the Romantic Suspense and Psychological Thriller lists as well. The numbers kept improving. Encouraged, StoneHouse Ink started a new imprint for hard-boiled writers like myself and called it StoneGate Ink. They published my former Random House books, THE INNOCENT and GODCHILD, now that the publishing rights had been released. These books would go on within six months of E-Book publication to not only make their respective bestseller lists, but to hit the overall Amazon Kindle Bestseller Lists, not just in North America, but in several European countries as well. In fact, THE INNOCENT would go on to grace the Kindle Top Ten Overall Bestseller's list for 7 weeks, and the Top 100 for almost 20 weeks. At one point I was selling 3,000 E-Books per day and moving more units than Stephen King. In the end, "Innocent" sold over 100,000 copies during the Spring rush. Within five years of contemplating cashing it all in and folding my cards, I'd become an International Bestseller. Poor Random House. If only they'd had faith that my books had the potential not only to earn out my six-figure advance but also to make a nice tidy profit, they might have kept on publishing me instead of remaindering all of my work and holding the rights hostage for ten years.

That was five months ago. Things haven't been the same since.

The most dramatic change has been the new cards I've been dealt. I've now signed a new lucrative contract with the renegade Amazon powerhouse publisher, Thomas & Mercer, the major player who is publishing not only my new novel, Murder By Moonlight, but nearly my entire back-list. But that doesn't mean I can't maintain my relationship with the StoneInks and continue to publish as an independent. It also means I will continue my work as a journalist and an explorer. Because in the end, I've learned, it's not the cards you have in your hand, it's how you play them. It's also a matter perseverance, a steadfast belief in one's self and one's talents, and an ability to keep on working even during some of the most tumultuous, depressing, and indeed, angering times you will ever experience in a single lifetime. It means developing the skills never to be defeated and to grow stronger in the broken places.

This past weekend, my ex-wife and I took our six year old daughter for a ride out in the country to pick out pumpkins and apples. It was a bright sunny Fall afternoon on the Upstate New York/New England border with the leaves on the trees having turned all shades of brilliant red, orange and yellow. One of those days where you can get away with either a sweater or a light jacket. We spent the day as if we were a tight knit family. And in a way are tightly knit and certainly even closer than some marriages that exist in a state of siege. My ex and I were able to look into one another's eyes and realize that all the anger over what happened when my career temporarily tanked is past. There remains now only our child and bringing her up knowing that she has two parents who love her and who will be there for her thick or thin. No amount of literary success or sales can ever replace that.
But I recognize a distinct sadness in my ex-wife's eyes now when I peer into them. I believe the sadness is wrought over something that could never be changed or reversed once it was put in place by the very same people who were once responsible for her well being as a child and adolescent. Her adult life decisions and the effect it has had on her now as a middle aged woman ring out and reverberate with an irony so intense, it is both deafening and bone shattering.

But my ex-wife and I, we are no better than anyone else. Life isn't exactly fair. You win some and you lose some. But one thing however is for certain: we, as writers, are all victims of our desires, slaves to love, and powerless in the face of blind passion. We are artists and we are as much blessed by God as we are doomed by the fallen angels.

My ex-wife and I still love one another. We often remind each other of it. Many times I don't get off the phone with her without saying, "Love you." But we cannot have one another any longer. Perhaps it's too late to rekindle embers that have not only grown cold, but have disintegrated and seeped into the earth over the course of the many seasons. But if we are the least bit intelligent, we have both learned a vital lesson five years in the making. When you're dealt a hand of cards and you are forced to make the final decision on whether to stay in the game no matter the quality of the hand, or to fold them and walk away from the table, the decision better be the right one. Because when the time comes for the great dealer in the sky to make His call, and all bets are suddenly off, you will be left alone with your choice, right or wrong.
That choice had better come straight from the heart, because it will be something you must live with for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the Fall of the Year. Or, The Path Not Taken

"Do I go right or left?"

My brief ten day hiatus from the blogosphere is now officially over. My thanks to the guest bloggers who more than took up the slack. You enabled me to get through the new draft of BLUE MOONLIGHT (the sequel to the newly released MOONLIGHT RISES) while offering some sage advice on writing, marketing, and just living the literary life in this the digital age.

I'm calling this "In the Fall of Year..." because even though Fall is my favorite season by far, it seems always to accompany serious change in my life and in some cases, downright turmoil. Maybe the Fall is actually no different from any other season, but that it just seems more intense since this is the time when I am at my most creative. What did Hemingway once say about the Fall: That's the time when real writers put pen to paper. But I also think it has something to do with the proximity of death in that whole the Fall-leads-to-Winter notion of the idea.

Since my return from Europe in September I've realized several ends and even more beginnings. As for the former, my relationship with my girlfriend came to an final end, and as for the former, my son Harrison was able to take his GED exam (he assumes he passed). Now he can begin his work as a writer and video game designer in earnest. Such are his plans. His brother Jack will turn 21 in two weeks, and it will certainly be interesting, to say the least, to view my son as an adult, rather than a kid. While my brief foray into the world of independent publishing comes not to a full closure, but rather that of a transition back into traditional publishing, I find myself at a cross-roads.

Do I remain in Albany, and continue to forge ahead with a life here? Or, at 47, do I look for a new place to begin again? Even if it's only thirty miles away. Final destination possibilities abound inside my skull like those steel ball-bearings that bounce against the insides of a spray paint can. At one minute I'm thinking New York City while the very next, I'm thinking Florence, Italy, full-time. Both are expensive these days, so I'm also thinking somewhere out west like Boise, but then I'll look at a small Hudson River town not far south from where I live now and I think, Yah, that's the ticket...Small town living while remaining in the general proximity of Manhattan and just 6 hours to Europe. 

Whether I move or not, the point is not location, but transition. We all need to recognize when our entire being requires a tune-up and the best time for that is during these transitional phases. Who wants to be that fat guy sitting on the couch watching reality TV with a beer in hand chanting, "Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda...?"

Well, first of all I don't watch reality TV and second of all, I don't even own a TV any longer. But as we age, life becomes a slippery slope, and next thing you know, you've just spent the airline ticket money on a new LCD and a satellite hookup. Welcome to soft middle age.

This has been one of the best years of my life in terms of career, creativity, travel, and attempting to piece together this life that I have stubbornly built for myself. The transition isn't over yet by a long shot. But sooner than later, I will be forced to make a few hard decisions and once their made, I'm going to have to stick to them.

Now that's the scary part about life. Sticking to your decisions once you've made them.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Build an Author's Platform by Bri Clark

"Beauty and brains...Can you ask for anything more?"

I've known Bri Clark for a while now, and she has become one of the most savvy marketing pros around. She's also a hell of a writer, her new novels climbing the charts each day...She's packed in quite a bit of experience in her short 26 or 27 years and she's earned her stripes both as a author marketing consultant and fiction author...

I'm always proud to have her guest post for me...and here she is:

Author Platform: Keyword being Author
By Bri Clark
Let’s talk author platform, first by defining what exactly it means.
Author Platform: The marketing base on which an author builds, contributes to, and draws from throughout their career.
In my opinion author platform is not defined by your genre or publisher, but by you the author. Can you use the fact you are a Christian Fiction Thriller Author to build you blog, social media accounts, speaking engagements around. Go right ahead. However, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Do you know how many Christian Fiction Thriller Writers there are? A lot….huh? Same thing goes for paranormal romance writers. (that’s one of my hats) A freaking lot.
The point is you want to stand out and be noticed. Then retain those that have found you.
Now I’ll give you two examples of authors who did not limit themselves by their genre or genres.
First, my gracious host. Vincent Zandri. Take the title of his blog for example.
The Vincent Zandri Vox.
Two Points
·        His name is included in the title and the url. This is a must for SEO optimization.
·        Vox in itself tells you he’s a guy who isn’t typical. In fact, it almost acts as a warning in saying. Hey you are definitely going to learn in a way that is outside the box.
Second, myself.
Bri Clark the Belle of Boise
Two Points
·        My name is included in the title and url. This is a must for SEO optimization.
·        The Belle of Boise. I am a southern belle to the core. And I recently moved to Bosie ID. People here love hearing how I speak, my sayings and my heritage.
I believe I can speak for myself as well as Vincent that by keeping our core personalities of who we are as people, as authors the principle of the platform it’s much easier to build upon. My posts on my blogs are as varied from balancing a career and my daughter’s birthday parties, to how to write a proper blog post. Vincent’s range from general debauchery to his recent contract with a traditional publishing house.
The point is fair writers and authors if it’s you that’s your foundation you won’t find yourself floundering in this maze of a publishing world.
What’s your platform? What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Very Good Reason to Skip the PhD by Calee M. Lee, my second Guest Post

I'm in the midst of driving my 17 year old son Bear back and forth to his GED exam, so you can image how author/publisher Calee M. Lee's guest blog hits home. Bear wants to be a writer and a novelist and with today's education system actually inhibiting learning on an individual level, he has chosen self-education above traditional. Not that this is entirely what my guest post is about, but it certainly struck a nerve. Calee is proof that not only do you not need a PhD to survive in indie world, taking the time to get one can cost you valuable writing and publishing time. She's made a success at both.

Here's her take on it:

A Very Good Reason to Skip the PhD

By Calee M. Lee

Remember the week that Amanda Hocking signed her major book deal? It was sunny and warm in southern California, and my email inbox was filled with rejection. I’d been a successful copywriter for years, but I was been missing my first love—story. I’d just finished a MA program in English Lit (to get back to reading and writing and talking about stories) and a PhD seemed like the next logical step.
Or not.
Once I realized I would not be attending grad school in the fall, my brain suddenly had a lot more available space. For what, I wasn’t sure, but when a friend posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article and I wound my way through the Internet’s maze of self-publishing blogs, I thought that perhaps I would get back into writing creatively after all.
Initially, my plan was to round up a crew of my playwright buddies, put together a collection of our 10-minute plays, and let the Internet do the rest.  That idea is still on my to-do list, but after thoroughly researching the market, making a number of soon-to-be-repealed proclamations to my husband, and remembering why those 10-year-old writing projects were still locked in drawers—Xist Publishing was born.
When I looked at my Kindle, I saw a list of new books for me, a New Yorker subscription, and a handful of children’s books either without pictures, or with images so poorly formatted that, while my daughter was hungry to get her grubby little hands on my Kindle, they weren’t the sort of thing I was excited to give her.  One afternoon, instead of doing laundry, I began writing a children’s story I’d been telling for years.  I called a friend. He agreed to illustrate it. The Queen and the Cats has been the #1 Christian Children’s Biography since it launched September 14th.
I called more friends and they agreed to let me publish their children’s books. I wrote more books. I spent hours learning InDesign. Books like Secret Agent Josephines ABCs and Caterpillars Dont Check Email went live on Amazon. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s still the Wild West for children’s ebooks and I’m more than curious to see what Amazon’s $79 Kindle and the Color Kindle Fire will do for my business. It’s no surprise that kids are embracing the technology, but ebook sales for children are still lagging behind print and I’ve yet to see a picture book reach the top 100 on the Amazon bestseller list. Of course, that may all change this Christmas or next. The fun part is being along for the ride.
Since there are so few voices in the indie ebook arena that are talking about kids, I’d love to know what the readers here think. Are you writing children’s books? Buying them?
I currently sell about 50% print, 50% ebook on Amazon, but when you figure in our sales of print copies to indie bookstores, ebooks really only take up about 10% of the pie. Any predictions on when that might change?

Calee M. Lee is the author of The Queen and the Cats: A Story of Saint Helena and Caterpillars Dont Check Email and the editor of We Love BUGS: 31 Classic Insect Poems for Kids.  She is the founder of Xist Publishing, producing books for the touchscreen generation.

Xist Publishing: http://xistpublishing.com
The Queen and the Cats: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FCFF94
We love BUGS: http://www.amazon.com/We-Love-

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mel Hagopian on Memory, or Lack Thereof....

My first guest post comes from rising star Mel Hagopian who discuses the persistence of memory (please excuse Mr. Dali) or, rather, the lack of persistent memory, or persistent lack of accurate memory or well never mind me, she lays it all out far better than I ever could.

For now, I give you, Mel:

I Remember It Well

We are all pathological liars. Our brains are designed to make us always "feel" as if our recollections are true, regardless of whether or not they actually occurred. In fact, science has proven that a memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it, and that the more you remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes.

Pretty powerful stuff. It brings to mind a song from the 1958 movie, "Gigi", where Maurice Chevalier sings, "I Remember It Well".  If you have never seen this charming musical interaction, it is between two "older" individuals, who do not agree on the details of their first date. Of course, with his undeniable charm, Maurice manages to agree with his former love, even though he openly disagrees. I love it. (Men, take a lesson from Mr. Chevalier.)

The subject of memory has recently become a topic of conversation between me and my British blogging counterpart, Sj. She is in the throes of promoting a new movie that deals with this very topic. Interestingly enough, as I write a book that is based on my parent's love story and family history, I have personally been thrown into a trip down memory lane.

As I sift through old family photos, some of which portray folks that are unidentified, yet related, I look to my ancestral past, recollecting my own memories of those who are now gone, and whose histories are a part of my life. I recall good times and bad, but , in the end, have discovered that I have modified those memories to fit the moment that I live in now. This is why my book is reality-based fiction.

Face it, memories are random, and often strange. Marcel Proust once wrote, "The past is never past. As long as we are alive, our memories remain wonderfully volatile. In their mercurial mirror, we see ourselves." Jonah Lehrer, in his book, Proust Was A Neuroscientist, writes that Proust believed that, "we must misremember something in order to remember it." In other words, our mind is constantly reincarnating itself. It is ongoing and ever changing.

Lehrer writes that, "scientists have discovered that our brain is full of neurons that never touch, yet are responsible for brain activity. The spaces between these neurons are called synaptic clefts, and the area between these neurons is subject to change." Brain research has gained much knowledge of how those spaces effect memory, and how a memory is created, but only time will tell why our memories are "purely fiction."

My brother and oldest sister recall a set of parents that barely resemble the two that raised me. In fact, upon reading the love letters that my father wrote to my mother back in 1940, my sister remarked, "I had no idea that our father had such love in his heart." She remembered a different father than I did. For me, my father will remain tall, dark, and handsome, with a smile that made women swoon.

Sigmund Freud coined the term, "Nachtraglickeit", to describe the phenomenon of transference. He surmised that we take memories of childhood trauma, and retell them at a later time in life, renamed with different characters, and through the eyes and ears of an older person.  We create another version of a story, to meet the needs of our current situations and issues. Our past is actually quite different, but our memories disobey logic.

Hans W. Leowald, M.D., an early 20th Century psychiatrist,  tells us that, "the ghosts of the underground that awaken, taste the blood of recognition and haunt us in ways not fully understood, gradually become ancestors, buried, and much less important." It really makes me think about my life, and question, "Who am I?"

The entire concept frightens me a bit.  Could Proust be correct? Should we, "Treat the reality of our memories carefully, and with a degree of skepticism"? Proust contended that there was no need to keep track of the lies of our memories, as, "Every memory is full of errors." Am I really full of unintentional deceit?

Science has also discovered that most memories are triggered by taste and smell, and that exposure to certain combinations of these two senses can actually trigger "moments bienheureux", or fortunate moments. Author Jonah Lehrer, cites them as, "the  blinding epiphanies that one experiences, like a beautiful apparition, and inspires an intense creative flare."

I happen to experience these "fortunate moments" on occasion, and revel in the rapture as they burn through my brain, carving new tattoos on my inner soul. Are these memories real? Of course they are. At least in my mind. And, who are you?
A figment of your own revisionist history?

Think about it. I do.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm buried!
Plain and simple...Finishing up a new book and getting ready to start all over with Thomas & Mercer plus write a new book for my bros at StoneGate Ink....On top of all this, I wanna help out as many new and established writers as I can. That said, I'm looking for a few good guest blogs. Write on any topic you want just so long as it's about the writing experience and in line with what you normally see at this thing.

First come first served dudes, so bring it on...

Send your blogs in RTF (I don't do DocX) to Vazandri@aol.com....and I will get on the action asap.

Thanks all....Now get writing!!!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Winners Never Quit!

You've heard the old saying so many times you probably wanna hurl when you see it: Winners never quit and quitters never win. 

It was true back when I was playing high school football and it's still true today. Never more so than in the independent writing world. I read recently that many of the authors (up to 98% of them) who are now turning their backs on rejection for  the freedom and ease of independent publishing via Amazon and other similar digital e-Book DIY programs, will eventually quit. And I mean, quit within a year of their entry into independent publishing. 


Because they won't sell. Or, wait, scratch that. It's not that they won't sell, it's that they will perceive themselves as not selling. It's no surprise that many of these would-be authors took one look at the John Locke's of the indie publishing world and said to themselves, "Well, hell, I can do that." They logged onto Amazon KDP, downloaded their book, slapped a cover onto it, priced it at $.99 and watched it crash in the rankings like the Hindenburg into New Jersey. 

"Oh the humanity..."

What happened here? 

The instant success that these authors feel was warranted in the face of constant rejection, in the face of having to get up for a job they hate, in the face of writing friends who are becoming a success, in the face of that awful dark thing that fills your head at night when you lay it down on your pillow, just didn't arrive. At least not right away.
But what these quitters do not see is the light at the end of the publishing tunnel. Instead of writing more books and publishing those, they will give up on indie publishing and go back to seeking out a traditional deal, which in this day and age is becoming a near impossibility, unless you are already showing some great success in the indie publishing world. See how that works now????

For those of you committed to indie publishing no matter your sales; for those of you thinking long term; for those of you who understand that success at this thing takes time, and hitting your stride in the marketplace takes even more time and persistence, never fear. Most of the authors whom you are competing against in the indie marketplace won't be here next year. It will be the good authors who never quit who will eventually become the successes and the full-time writers. 

The quitters will get up on a bone cold, dark, unforgiving morning, fire up a cigarette, and head out to work.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Dear Vincent, How Do You Do It?"

The greatest marketing machine on earth...now ain't that a mouthful.

This past week my agent, Chip MacGregor, made a business trip to the offices of Thomas & Mercer, Amazon's new powerhouse crime imprint to go over the final details of my deal. While he was there, one of the Amazon execs asked him, "What's Vincent's secret to his marketing success?" In reply Chip said, "I always thought it was that you were telling a good story." 

But after thinking about this for a while Chip then got on the horn with me and asked, "Well what are the two or three key elements to your marketing success?" 

Here's my response to him:

Hey Chip....basically, and I've blogged at length about this, there's no exact science to the marketing thing or we all wouldn't always be asking one another, "How'd you do that??? Ha!:)....But in a nutshell, you have to start out with a great product...GREAT writing, good story, great cover, and product description and a price that sells.

Ok, that said, I believe social media is key. Not direct selling of a book, although you can do a little of that. But selling yourself the author. If people like you, they will buy you. Part of the social media thing is to maintain consistent blog posts by selling your particular brand. In my case, people can come to The Vincent Zandri Vox and know that they will be getting a very personal essay about my writing experience. If they go to Konrath's blog, they get something about how to pursue self-publishing through e-books. Bob Mayer's blog will inevitably be about publishing industry shifts, upheavals, author marketing approaches, etc. All of us are bestsellers and making a nice living off of our books.
Virtual tours are also key. They help sell books because you want the Mommy bloggers on your side probably more than The New York Times Review of Books, even though the latter looks really good on a resume if you plan on teaching college one day.
Another key: In the begining years, you gotta plan work 7 days a week and you have to stay ahead of the indie curve. In other words, changes are always taking place on the bookseller level, especially at Amazon, where most of us sell the majority of our e-Books. In the past six months alone there is evidence of algorithm shifts in the titles that are promoted through direct marketing. New indie titles like my SCREAM CATCHER are no longer allowed to hang out on the Hot New Bestselling lists for more than thirty days now, as opposed to what had been ninety days. And pricing your books at $.99 doesn't guarantee massive sales anymore like it might have a few months ago, which I believe is due to the fact that so many readers have gotten burned by poorly written books that just plain suck. Which means $.99 can actually be viewed as a red flag for many readers, unless the author is already trusted.  
The second part to all this, is more of a technical nature. You want to tag authors who are also bestsellers and who sell in your genre. This helps get your name out there especially in Amazon land and just might increase your chances of landing in their algorithm-inspired direct marketing campaigns, of which I've been included a couple of times, both times helping me land spots for two of my novels, THE INNOCENT and THE REMAINS, in the top 20 and even top 10 over all kindles.
IMPORTANT: Extended two to four week stays in the Amazon Top 100 can make the entire financial year for an author. Two similar stays is gravy!!! That's what an author must initially shoot for for...one or two rises to the top. What authors have to understand however, you can't look at being an immediate success. I've only been at this new publishing thing for 14 months, and despite selling around 200-250K e-books, my numbers still fluctuate a lot. That's because I have yet to hit my stride. That's perfectly normal. Whereas hitting a stride in the old traditional method could have taken up to ten years or more (Mega Bestseller Bob Mayer has written extensively on this and I invite you to check out his blog, Write It Forward), hitting the stride in these the days of digital media, can be shortened considerably to 2 or 3 years even (naturally every year we see a breakout bestseller who suddenly takes the world by storm and who is like 19 years old or whatever, but I'm talking the average "very good" and prolific mid-list author here like me...)
I'm also fortunate to have one of the best agents in the industry right now who isn't panicking to pay the bills by becoming a publisher (aka Trident), because number one, authors trust him and two, he's good at what he does meaning he's staying ahead of the trends and working with them. My deal with Amazon is evidence of staying ahead of that trend and will perhaps shorten the time it will take me to hit my stride by as much as a full year, so long as I continue to market consistently. 
Anyway, sorry to write so much, and perhaps I'll edit this into a blog, but this should give you an idea of the life I'm living as a writer. Just remember this: In the end, the best publicity a writer can provide him or herself is to write more good books. Once you have a certain amount of titles out there and your "brand" is more and more trusted, your audience will begin to expand exponentially.
Cheers Chip


Saturday, October 1, 2011



Scream Catcher
by Vincent Zandri

This is how your life ends: Not with a whimper, but a scream!

Jude Parish is afraid. The former violent crimes cop turned bestselling true crime author has a fear-filled demon lodged inside of him. A demon so real he can only imagine a slimy reptilian beast with scaly skin, black eyes, and razor-sharp fangs having taken up residence inside the place where his once confident and fearless soul resided.

Now, in the wake of his literary success, the ever anxious Jude is hoping to lead a quiet, peaceful life in the idyllic Adirondack vacation town of Lake George, New York with his new pregnant wife, Rosie, and Jack, his young son from a previous marriage. But when Jude becomes the accidental witness to a bizarre “kill game” in which the killer, video game designer and master of disguise, Hector “the Black Dragon” Lennox, insists on recording the screams of his victims prior to shooting them dead, the ex-cop’s life is turned upside down.

When Lennox is arrested by the L.G.P.D. and Jude is asked to act as the state’s “star witness,” he has no choice but to fight his demon-fear and take on the role. But what he doesn’t realize at the time, is that the killer’s arrest is actually the first level in what is a carefully designed and scripted first-person video kill game that will involve his entire family as “players” and “victims.”

How will the kill game end?

Like all violent video games, it will end in death. But it won’t be “Game Over” until Hector Lennox catches the screams of his tortured victims.


“Scream Catcher has the classic Zandri flair, short chapters, cliff hanging chapters, twists and turns, non stop action and page turning suspense. However, this had more drama, less quirky, quip dialogue and more of a psychological thriller plot. Masterful!!!!” –CMash Loves to Read Book Blog

“Readers will be held captive by prose that pounds as steadily as an elevated pulse… Vincent Zandri nails readers’ attention.—Boston Herald


Vincent Zandri is an award-winning, bestselling novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

To learn more about Vincent, please visit his website: WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM